Lucent Digital Radio Gets a Boost

It's been a busy week for Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) pioneers Lucent Digital Radio. (See previous report.) The company has announced that a new entity, Lucent Digital Radio, Inc., has been created as a result of an investment by Pequot Capital Management. The new company will be owned by Pequot Capital investors and Lucent Technologies, which will hold a majority ownership stake. Lucent says it will continue to support the new venture and provide ongoing access to research from the company's Bell Labs research and development unit.

On the eve of the financing announcement, LDR also revealed key deals with several broadcast-industry veterans. LDR and Moseley Associates, who design and manufacture radio broadcast equipment, announced that they have agreed to jointly test Studio Transmitter Link (STL) technology that they say will further develop Lucent Digital Radio's In-Band On-Channel (IBOC) DAB system. The companies state that tests will commence immediately and will be conducted at both LDR and Moseley facilities.

The STL link, an integral part of the radio broadcast chain, connects a radio station's studio to its transmitter site. Moseley's David Chancey says, "We believe that IBOC is a tremendous opportunity for all involved in the radio broadcast industry . . . our joint efforts will allow our Starlink STL customers to understand how our product works with 21st-century radio technology."

LDB also announced joint testing agreements with transmitter manufacturer Continental Electronics Corp. and processing manufacturer Orban, whose OPTIMOD family of audio processors are installed in more than 25,000 broadcast locations around the world. LDR's Suren Pai says, "We are developing an end-to-end system solution for IBOC, and the first part of the broadcast chain is the audio processing. The combination of Orban's studio sound-processing expertise with our PAC coder will help radio stations deliver the clearest possible digital audio over the air."

According to LDR, the company's Perceptual Audio Coder (PAC), which compresses audio to be streamed at 96 kilobits per second, uses Unequal Error Protection, which prioritizes information according to its impact on audio quality; and a technique called Multi-Streaming, which LDR claims provides for a more robust signal in an impaired channel. LDR says that because their PAC can be modified if needed, the tests with Orban will ensure that both audio processing and audio coding are mutually developed and optimized.